Do you ever stop in the middle of one of your regular healthy activities and ask yourself, "Is this really helping me?"
Here I invite you to give yourself a second chance to question what made you question your “healthy habit” in the first place! What if that “good habit” that causes you to think twice really isn't as good for you as you think? What if breaking it once, or dropping it completely could actually improve your health? To get you started, here are a few habits that many people consider to be healthy but are totally worth breaking...
1. Running your butt off on the treadmill.
Whilst regular activity is recommended by health experts worldwide, if for you that means a high-impact cardio daily, you may be exercising your body into a state of stress. According to celebrity personal trainer and author of Clean and Lean Diet, James Duigan, just as a highly stressed mind doesn't work properly the same goes for a highly stressed body. A body under stress releases cortisol, which preserves readily accessible body fat stores, such as those around the middle or at the jaw-line, ready for a fight or flight response. So instead of running off your tummy fat, you could actually be storing it instead! James recommends 20 minutes of light to moderate cardio exercise each day, such as brisk walking or jogging, coupled with an 8 minute routine of squats, lunges and balances using your own body-weight to improve muscle tone and stimulate metabolism.
2. Keeping things nice.
Are you the peacemaker in your family of friends or relatives? Are you the one to consistently make the effort to be overly-nice or put up with rudeness? Then it's time to re-think that role for your own health. Ayurveda, the ancient indian science of health, reminds us that feelings of anger, fear, and disappointment are natural human emotions which need to be released. If we supress these emotions, in our habit of being the supportive or connective one at all times in our relationships, Ayurvedic medicine holds that this creates imbalances which give rise to disease-forming toxins. “Releasing” negative emotion in Ayurveda starts simply by awareness. Next time you let another hurtful comment pass from someone close to you, pause for a moment to acknowledge what it really means to you. If you feel the need, express the feeling out loud for further release.
3. Staying out of the sun.
It seems we have taken awareness of the sun's harmful rays too far, with up to 80% of populations in northern climates suffering from Vitamin D deficiency, according to studies. Worryingly, even in sunny places such as Australia Vitamin D deficiency is on the rise -- and experts say this could be because we're so dedicated to applying our SPF and covering up when we're in the sun. 10 minutes of daily sun exposure to a large part of the body, such as the arms, back or legs is what's needed to keep a healthy level of Vitamin D, essential for hormone and immune system regulation.
4. Cooking with olive oil.
While still an excellent choice for salad dressings or drizzled cold over dishes such as grilled vegetables, when olive oil is heated even to the temperature of a stir or shallow fry it's health benefits are destroyed. Two wonderful and tasty alternatives for healthy cooking are Coconut oil, with it's MUFA structure (medium chain fatty acids which support metabolism) or sesame oil, both of which remain healthy at high heat.
5. Reading in strong light.
Bright direct light on pages can strain the eyes and impair vision over time, experts have found. Plus, exposure to bright light before going to bed can interrupt sleep. Dr Andrew Weil recommends dimming the lights to about 40 watt or wearing sunglasses indoors for an hour before bedtime to allow our bodies to prepare for proper rest.
6. Staying warm.
Interesting new studies documented in the Journal of Clinical Medicine are showing that functioning at a state of near-shivering cold assists the burning of fat stores. If you are looking to shape up, that's reason enough to take off your jacket! Whilst it's not so comfortable to go through life with teeth chattering, small changes such as sleeping in a cool room to promote more refreshing sleep, and drinking iced, instead of room temperature, water when we're looking to boost our metabolism, are among the host of benefits have been shown to come from keeping cool.